On Monday night, the Los Angeles Lakers face the Phoenix Suns for the fourth and final time during the 2014-15 season. The Lakers have lost all three previous meetings due largely to Phoenix's three point guards.
Isaiah Thomas, Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe have propelling the Suns to a 24-18 start to the season, which is currently good enough for eighth place in the Western Conference. With the Lakers on a four-game losing streak and losers in six of the last seven contests, Monday night's game looks like trouble.
Creating even more problems for LA, Kobe Bryant's status for the game remains in question. Added to that, Lakers starting point guard Ronnie Price sat out the Lakers' loss in Utah due to a sore elbow, and Lakers coach Byron Scott said on Sunday that he was leaning towards sitting the veteran point guard on Monday.
At Sunday's practice, Scott made sure not to reveal whether Bryant would play against the Suns, but the 36-year-old veteran did not practice with the team. The 19-year-veteran came to the practice facility to get treatment before hopping the flight to Phoenix with his teammates. Regardless of whether or not he plays on Monday, Bryant expects to travel to New Orleans and San Antonio with the team later this week.
If both Bryant and Price sit, the Lakers would again look to Wayne Ellington and Jeremy Lin to take over starting backcourt duties. Ellington made four of six shots when he stepped in against the Utah Jazz on Friday, but Lin struggled to only six points on 3-10 shooting from the field. For the Lakers to have any chance against the Suns, Ellington and Lin will likely need to combine for more than the 15 points and less than the five turnovers the deputizing backcourt managed in Salt Lake City.
One of the only positives to come out of the trip to Utah was Nick Young's regained shooting confidence. Young scored 23 points, which including the 29-year-old making all 13 of his free throws.
On the flip side, turnovers in the loss to Utah caused major concern. The Lakers committed 21 turnovers against the Jazz, and a repeat performance against a speedy Suns team that punishes teams in transition would not help the Lakers' cause.
Bryant's involvement remains in doubt, but the Lakers and Suns will tip at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time.